Customer engagement — some businesses make it look so easy. So why are your great posts getting no likes? Why is no one reading your blog or signing up for the newsletter?
It’s frustrating. You know you’re producing high-quality content.
In these cases, it’s not the what (content). It’s the how. How are you using your content to increase customer engagement? How are you applying strategies to get better results?
Let’s explore 9 valuable techniques you’ll wish you learned a long time ago. It’s never too late to turn this around and see engagement rates soar.
Let’s take a look!
1. Interact with Interacters
Social media isn’t an ad forum. It’s a place where people come to socialize through sharing. Part of that is learning about new products and services. And they love sharing their experiences with brands, good or bad.
Businesses who tap into why people are on social media get the best customer engagement.
It’s great to see your follower count go up. But what does it really mean for your business? It can mean a lot. But it won’t if you don’t know how to engage that follower.
People on social media follow many brands. Of those brands, they likely have a handful of brands they interact with on social media. The rest, they are just following because they liked something once and then forgot to unfollow.
When they do engage with you, recognize it for the priceless moment it is. What you do in that moment sets the stage for future customer engagement. Or it can cause this follower never to interact with you again.
They may like your posts and seem somewhat engaged. But that’s the extent of it.
How to Interact with Followers (the good, the bad, and the ugly)
Let’s break it down into some interaction types.
Actively Work to Start a Conversation
People like when someone else starts the conversation. Show that you value their feedback and opinions.
Use your posts to ask questions. Get people thinking about something. Evoke a positive emotional response.
Comment When People Comment
If someone took the time to comment on a post, you can take a moment to comment back. It doesn’t have to be immediate if the comment isn’t negative. It doesn’t have to be long. Sometimes a simple “thank you” is enough. But don’t make it seem like you’re a robot with the same response every time.
A disengaged follower can be thought of as just a bit warmer than a cold lead. In other words, you’ve got a lot of work to do to take that person through to becoming a paying customer.
A comment is showing interest in your brand. They should be treated like a warm lead. Nurture this small gesture into something more.
Comment Fast to Complaints
72% of people now think a business should respond to a social media complaint within 1 hour. That seems like a tall order for a small business.
But this is a case where customer desire and their expectations don’t align. Statista found that only 18% actually expect you to respond in one hour.
Nearly half expect 24 hours. And a surprising 33% don’t expect any response at all.
Small businesses often struggle with this the most. Their social media person may be doubling as another role. It may even be the owner.
They may only be able to be active in short spurts.
But being what customers want instead of what they expect here can make a huge difference for your business.
Many people reach out on social media before leaving a review, meaning a delay could do double the damage or worse.
But the good news is that the simple act of showing you’re listening can diffuse an ugly situation and may even turn a 1-star into a 4-star review. A person who has a complaint resolved favorably will, on average, tell 4-6 people about how you made things right.
Show you’re listening and engaged whether it’s good or bad to increase customer engagement. More than that one customer may be watching.
Take a deep breath. Consider your response. If the issue isn’t an easy fix, buy yourself some time by demonstrating that you’re looking into it. Then make sure you follow up quickly. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t throw someone under the bus until you’ve gathered the facts.
That could backfire on you if you find out it was a misunderstanding.
Whether good or bad, a mention of your brand is a form of customer engagement. If someone mentions you, let them know you’re listening with an appropriate response.
Set up your account to notify you of mentions. Recognize these mentions to increase customer engagement. When people see you’re active and engaged, they will be too. Check out how Whole Foods responds to their mentions on Twitter.
2. Run Contests People Love
People love contests. Not only does someone have the joy of winning a specific prize. Many more get that adrenaline rush from thinking they might win, almost winning and planning what they’ll do if they win.
Regardless of which social media platform or platforms you focus your energy on, a contest done well is a great way to engage customers.
Instagram has an especially quick and easy contest setup. With over 400 million active users Instagram is a great place to run your contest. Not on Instagram? Don’t skip this section. While we will be using Instagram as an example, most of this will apply to wherever you run contests on social media.
How to Set up Instagram Contests
Let’s get started. Throughout this how-to, we’ll reference a women’s clothing boutique that did a giveaway for customer appreciation day. They paired their giveaway with a really great in-store promotion as well to capture attention online and offline.
Get clear on Your Objectives
Should this contest grow brand awareness, increase leads, re-engage existing customers, and/or increase new customers? What you decide to make your objective will impact how you set up the contest campaign. Our boutique example definitely chose to do their giveaway to gain new customers and make customers return to purchase again.
Determine How to Measure Success
Never start a contest without knowing how you will measure it. Know what to measure. Have the tools in place to measure it.
Set Up an Entry Method
You can do so much more than the boring entry form. Get creative.
Will you ask people to post with a specific hashtag to enter?
You might have them:
- Follow you by a certain date (you usually want more than this)
- Tag your branding a photo they’ve taken
- Comment or like a specific post
- Regram an image on your page with a brand tag. This is Instagram’s version of re-tweeting (RT). They repost your image to their own page.
Below is the boutique example for their giveaway. They chose to edit their post after the winner was chosen so followers knew the timeline of the promotion.
Create an Effective Hashtag for the Contest
This will link the engagement to the contest. Remember “SRMUR”. It should be “short, relevant, memorable, universal (understood by your audience), rare”.
Have a Theme
If people are posting images or videos, something should link them together. This something should indicate to people familiar with the contest that this is an entry. This theme, for the length of the contest, takes on the power of a brand.
If the contest is highly successful, this theme may become closely associated with your brand. Make a great one.
This theme can relate directly back to your brand. Or you can go the route of something of particular interest to your target like sports, weather or events. This clothing boutique chose to center their theme around customer appreciation and a “treat yourself” vibe with pink and confetti being seen throughout their designs.
Communicate How People Win
You might pick a winner on most likes for their post. This encourages people to share the contest with others. Many of them will also become contestants.
Choose a Prize that’s a Win-Win
The ideal prize:
- Gets people excited. It should be of high enough value that it’s worth their while. This value depends on your audience and how engaged they are already. Some will get excited about a $20 prize. Others need something more.
- Gives you a decent ROI
- Is uniquely appealing to your target audience
You might be tempted to increase your followers 10-fold by offering an iPhone 10 or season tickets for the home team.
However, not only would this be more than most small businesses can spend on a single prize. Consider the quality of followers you would be attracting. These kinds of prizes have mass appeal. When it comes to customer engagement, avoid choosing a prize that will disproportionately engage people who aren’t potential customers.
3. Conduct Surveys to Create a Win-Win
Social media is a great place to learn more about your target customers. Surveys help you capture what you’re learning in a more measurable and usable form.
Surveys are yet another way to show you’re listening. When you use what you learn to improve customer experiences you earn loyalty that’s not easy to earn these days.
Tips for Increasing Engagement with Surveys
- Set a specific objective.
- Choose an effective tool. This may be the one on the social media platform. Or you could guide people to a page on your website. Google Surveys and Survey Monkey are two great free tools. Survey Monkey has a paid version that collects more responses and provides more in-depth reporting if desired.
- Make the questions relevant and meaningful to your target and aligned with the objective.
- Keep the survey short. People get bored after 10 questions.
- Keep response choices closed. Don’t allow write-in answers unless you are going to take the time to sort through and read some long responses. It may be valuable use of your time in some instances. But most of the time you know what the top 3-4 answers to a question will be. Just make those the choices.
- Never ask what people plan to do. This can be very different from what they actually do. Instead, ask about current or past behavior.
- Send surveys at peak times whether on social media or email. This will usually be the time you get the most customer engagement already.
- Offer people something in exchange for the survey. As little as 10% off for 5 minutes of their time will increase participation and sales at the same time.
- Set a deadline. This creates a sense of urgency and lets you and customers know when the results will be final.
- Send a reminder. Whether you’re engaging through email marketing or social media, sometimes people just need a reminder
- Post the results. This will further engage those who did take the survey and the people who didn’t. You’ll get more customer engagement each time you do this. Now people know you’re listening.
4. Target Existing Customer with Facebook Ads
We know what you’re thinking. Why am I paying for clicks from existing customers? I’ve already got their business.
To this, we’d respond, “Do you, really?”
If you want to see customer engagement go through the roof and revenues with them, then this is a smart place to spend ad dollars.
The Proof Is in the Numbers
According to research firm Marketing Metric, you have a 60% – 70% chance to sell something to an existing customer, compared to around 5% for a new person.
They’re 7X more likely to try a new product or service. If you’re launching something new, these are the people you need on your side.
A repeat customer will spend about 67% more than a new customer.
Increasing retention by just 2% decreases marketing, sales and customer care costs by 10%. A 5% reduction in defection (going to another brand) can nearly double profits. That’s the kind of ROI we like to see.
So to recap. It’s easier to sell to them. They buy more. They save you money. You can nearly double your profits.
How to Target Existing Customers through Facebook Ads
Facebook ads make this really easy. And you can do it several ways to get different results.
- You can choose to only show ads to your current followers. Many of them will be existing customers. Those who aren’t may benefit from the nudge.
- Engage a lookalike audience. This allows you to target people with your ads whose profiles are similar to existing customers but aren’t yet customers.
- You can engage people who’ve visited your website. That’s called remarketing. An Adobe study showed that it increases clicks by 400% as well as revenues.
- Target people who took an action.
Just make your selection from Facebook’s user-friendly interface.
Social media advertising is a great way to increase engagement and customer lifetime value (CLV).
5. Collaborate with Other Businesses
Work with other non-competitor businesses to engage each other’s customers. As they say, “two heads are better than one”. When you work together you share any costs and amplify the results.
On top of this, each of your brands may have an audience that they other struggles with. When you work together, you’re “putting a good word in” for the other business and they’re doing the same for you.
This offers both of you instant credibility with a new audience.
Ways to Collaborate to Increase Customer Engagement
- Agree to share each other’s content on your site.
- Offer customers a package deal that includes products/services from both companies at a discount
- Host a physical event together. Get people excited about it on social media. Encourage people to share images, video or live stream while at the event.
- Host an online event together.
- Share the expense of a top-notch video that neither could justify if paying solo.
6. Boost Popular Posts
A business can use social media to get instant feedback on what people like. Don’t let this valuable insight go unnoticed or unappreciated.
If one of your posts gets more engagement than others, amplify it by boosting that post. This is basically like trying an ad out for free before paying for it. You can boost posts for as little as $5 and still see a tremendous effect.
Increase followers. Drive more traffic to your website. Get people talking. But not every high engagement post is worth boosting.
Criteria for Boosting a Post
- It’s your own content. If it was a retweet or a curated post, you won’t get the value you’re looking for.
- It’s helpful to the audience. If a bunch of people liked a 75% off offer, this isn’t the best post to promote. Instead it should be non-promotional.
- It aligns with your social media goals. If the post was way out in left field and really doesn’t represent you, your audience or goals, it’s not worth boosting.
- Promote contests, giveaways, etc. The more views you get on those the better.
- It’s more image than text. Too much text likely won’t be read by people who don’t know you. And Facebook won’t promote or boost posts with a low image to text ratio. Use their free image to text checker until you familiarize yourself with the proportions.
7. Regram to Show You Value Customers
You know it’s not all about you. Show your fans you care by sharing their moments with your fanbase. If they mentioned your brand, you have a definite winner. Stick to these if you can.
But it’s also effective to browse through some of your most interesting follower accounts and share their content. In Instagram, this is called Regramming. You share their image or video, giving clear attribution.
Your action just got this follower in front of a whole new audience. It can earn them lots of likes. But in addition to making this Instagrammer’s day, you show that you value your customers. You’re interested in their lives.
These simple actions build up your trust and loyalty meter with hundreds or thousands of followers. They help nurture brand ambassadors. These are people who share about your brand.
On top of this, Regramming gives you a little bit of a break. It’s easier to regram than it is to create your own content.
Set up a schedule. Regram a certain number a week. But keep it proportional to your own content or it loses its power. Curation methods like this shouldn’t be more than 25% of your content. And on Instagram, even that’s a bit high.
8. Use Video
People watch over 8 billion videos a day on Facebook. Videos get 5 times the customer engagement of posts without video. Video should be part of your social media marketing strategy.
Why aren’t you using more video? For most small businesses video is simply an expense they feel they can’t afford. That’s even though 60% of people will buy a product or service after finishing an explanatory video about it.
Yes, video is usually more expensive than writing a blog. But when done right the ROI is astounding.
How to Use Video to Increase Customer Engagement
Here are some video marketing tips you can take to the bank.
Don’t Pay Too Much
Quality is important. But it doesn’t have to be a million dollar production to get results. It’s better to spend wisely on a set of videos that work together to achieve the same goals.
Go with a Winner
If you have a blog post that people absolutely loved, turn it into a video. You already know that the topic works. There’s less guesswork and reduced risk of producing a video that doesn’t get the customer engagement you expected.
Promote Videos the Smart Way
- Write a detailed, keyword dense yet engaging description for YouTube
- Add keyword tags that help people find it.
- Encourage people to like, comment, link and subscribe to increase ranking in YouTube’s search engine as well as Google’s
- Share the video on social media at high engagement times.
- Create a branded theme for your videos so they’re easy to identify.
- Use Facebook or Instagram ads to get an extra boost
9. Lead Customers into a More Personalized Experience
A Gartner study showed that personalization can increase profits by 15%. Accenture found that 75% of people are more likely to buy from a company that offers a personalized experience.
74% say they’re frustrated when businesses don’t attempt to personalize their experience.
Social media is amazing. It opens up new opportunities for business to interact with potential customers in a way people enjoy. But it’s not the best place for a personalized experience.
In order to increase personalization, and see customer engagement soar, guide potential customers into a setting where personalization and automation of that personalization are possible. 72% of people prefer email.
With email segmentation and automation, you send highly relevant emails. This level of relevance gets emails noticed, opened and engaged with.
How to Personalize Content
It goes beyond just knowing someone’s name. You can base your personalization on things like :
- Recent website activity
- Purchase history
- Job role/Industry
- And many more
The most cost-effective way to increase customer engagement and profits, is through use of automation and segmentation software. These take a lot of the monotonous and time-intensive tasks out. They also allow you to always send the email at the perfect time for maximum results.
These tools can be somewhat cost prohibitive for a small business. But when you work with a digital marketing company, they can spread the cost out among several businesses. This increases the ROI on this kind of software, giving even the smallest business access to very powerful software.
More Customer Engagement; Better ROI
When more people engage with your business content, you get more out of your marketing budget. These valuable techniques will help you get the right ROI on your efforts. Interact with people on social media.
Run contests and surveys that people love. Engage your existing customers to increase CLV.
Personalize the customer experience.